For some time now researchers have been talking about the relationship between the use of steroids to build muscles and the negative effect it has on male fertility. Increasingly the pursuit of the ‘body beautiful’ is being recognised is being one of the main causes of preventable male factor infertility.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr James Mossman of Brown University and Professor Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield said that taking steroids might make men look more “attractive” but could turn them into “an evolutionary dud”.
“I noticed some men coming in to have their fertility tested and these guys were huge,” said Dr Mossman.
“They are trying to look really big, to look like the pinnacles of evolution. But they are making themselves very unfit in an evolutionary sense, because without exception they had no sperm in their ejaculation at all.”
Phil Harris, consultant gynaecologist and clinical lead at Fertility Fusion said: “I am seeing an increasing number of men at the clinic who simply aren’t aware of the damage that taking anabolic steroids can do to their long-term health and fertility.
“We advise anyone who wishes to start a family now and in the future to avoid taking anabolic steroids where possible”.
The researchers state that steroids trick the brain’s pituitary gland into thinking the testes are going into overdrive. As such, the glands react by shutting down the production of two hormones – called FSH and LH – which are the key hormones behind the production of sperm.
Pacey said, “Isn’t it ironic that men go to the gym to look wonderful, for the most part to attract women, and inadvertently decrease their fertility.”
The NHS states that regularly taking anabolic steroids can lead to a number of physical and psychological changes in both men and women. Physical effects in men can include reduced sperm count, shrunken testicles, breast development, increased risk of prostate cancer and severe acne.
Physical effects in women include facial hair growth, loss of breasts, deepened voice and hair loss.